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5 life changing meditation techniques

“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.” -- Deepak Chopra

When it comes to meditation, I don’t believe there is a superior path. It’s up to each individual to make that decision. There are millions of meditations out there. However, in this article, I’ve highlighted five techniques that have been important to me in my life, and will hopefully be of interest and use to you too.

1.Vipassana Meditation

“The only conversion involved in Vipassana is from misery to happiness, from bondage to liberation.” -- S.N Goenka

I recently spent 10 days in a silent Buddhist Vipassana meditation retreat in Hereford where I couldn’t talk, use my phone or have any contact with the outside world. My days consisted of practising mindfulness and meditation for 10 hours every day and learning about the practice that resulted in Buddha’s enlightenment.

Vipassana is a Pali word which basically means ‘to see reality as it is’. The technique isn’t a light and fluffy way to relieve stress and relax while imagining you’re thoughts are like passing clouds on a clear blue sky. It’s more like meditation boot camp. It’s a method that involves delving deep into the mind and can at times be painful.

Practise Vipassana meditation if:

● You’re mentally stable
● You want a deeper meditation practice
● You’re interested in how the process of meditation works
● You’re not afraid to confront pain and experience some discomfort

More information about Vipassana:

If you’re interested in deeper forms of meditation, I highly recommend trying one of the 10 day retreats which take place all over the world. You can also read a more in depth article about my experience of practising Vipassana.

2.Yoga Nidra

“In yoga nidra, we restore our body, senses, and mind to their natural function and awaken a seventh sense that allows us to feel no separation, that only sees wholeness, tranquility, and well-being.” -- Richard Miller PhD

Yoga Nidra, in my opinion, is one of the best meditations you can do to relieve stress instantly and go into an incredibly deep state of relaxation.

You don’t need to have practised this method of meditation for years to ‘get it’ -- the feeling is pretty much instant. The only criticism I have of yoga nidra is that, it’s so pleasant, you have to be careful not to start craving the feeling of bliss.

The technique involves lying on your back whilst listening to a voice guide you through a variety of meditation techniques including body scanning and visual guided imagery.

Practise Yoga Nidra if:

● You are looking for instant relaxation and stress relief
● You want a quick ‘pick me up’ technique
● You want to plant specific goals (using Sankalpas) deep into your subconscious
● You have insomnia or trouble falling asleep

More information about Yoga Nidra:

For more information, I’d start by reading Yoga Nidra by Richard Miller PhD, which comes with a CD. However, if you want to get going straight away, I recommend Yoga Nidra - Healing Meditation

3. Open Heart Meditation

“Open Heart Meditation™ is a remarkably simple, yet effective, heart-based practice that is centered on ‘feeling’ rather than on brain-oriented visualizations or breathing techniques, making this practice purely experiential.” -- Padmacahaya

There are lots of heart based meditations out there. However, Open Heart Meditation was the first one I tried at the Lotus Centre in Hobart Tasmania in 2010. I’m not sure if it was down to the teacher being great, or what was going on in my life at the time, but this is one of the deepest life changing meditations I’ve ever done.

This meditation pretty much changed my worldview and is the reason I’m so fascinated in meditation. Forgiveness, letting go and opening the heart, lie at the centre of the technique.

Practise Open Heart Meditation if:

● You want to forgive either yourself or others
● You have baggage to let go of
● You want to open your heart
● You have found third eye or more ‘mind’ focused meditations difficult

More information about Open Heart Meditation:

For more information and links to guided heart based meditations, go to the Open Heart Meditation website. You could also search of ‘Loving Kindness Meditation’ which is a buddhist heart based practice.

4. Lucid dreaming

“Lucid dreaming shows us how to make friends with illusion while we sleep, so that we can be free from illusion when we wake.” -- Charlie Morley

Along with the Open Heart meditation, lucid dreaming transformed the way I saw the world. I’d had vague experiences as a child of being able to control my dreams, but nothing as intense as my first real lucid dream.

About four years ago, I went to a talk by lucid dreaming teacher and Buddhist, Charlie Morley, then read the book Counting Sheep, which really inspired me to train myself to be able to lucid dream.

When you’re lucid dreaming, you become conscious of the fact that you’re in a dream, and you actually use more of your brain when you’re in this state, than you do in waking life. Many athletes now use lucid dreaming as a way of improving their physical performance. Practising in their lucid dreams actually helps to improve their performance in waking life.

Practise Lucid Dreaming if:

● You are interested in consciousness
● You want to have fun
● You want to resolve issues using your dreams
● You want to increase your performance in a sport or other activity using your dreams

More information about lucid dreaming:

Aside from Charlie Morley, this is one of the best websites I’ve come across for learning how to lucid dream, World of Lucid Dreaming.

5.The Wim Hof Method

“We can do more than we think we can” -- Wim Hof

This technique was developed by Wim Hof -- also known as the Iceman, who is a world record breaker and adventurer, able to run marathons across snow, wearing nothing but shorts.
Hof is essentially able to activate his autonomic nervous system and have control over his body’s temperature and immune system -- something that was previously thought to be impossible.

I practised the Wim Hof Method course for 10 weeks over the Summer of 2015 which involved a mix of physical exercises based on yoga asanas, breathing techniques, meditation and cold exercises. Essentially, this is probably one of the most exhilarating practises I’ve ever done.

Practise the Wim Hof Method if:

● You are looking for a practice that helps to improve physical, mental and spiritual health.
● You’re looking for a challenge
● You want to feel more inner power and strength
● You want more energy in day to day life

More information about the Wim Hof Method:

For more information about the Wim Hof Method, start by watching the Wim Hof Vice documentary. If you want to dive straight in, you can find out more about the Wim Hof Method video course here.

I wish you all the best of luck, with whichever meditation practice you choose to do. If you have any questions, or you’d like to suggest a meditation practise that isn’t featured here, please leave a comment below.

Clare Hudson

Clare is a London based yoga and meditation teacher, and owner of the site Thought Brick.

26 Comments

    • Sally Thibault

      Why am I not happy in life? – This for me was one question that I asked myself over and over again many years ago and one that took me a very long time to actually overcome and find the path that would lead me to true happiness.

      • Clare

        Hi Sally, Often for me, I become more unhappy when the gap between where I am now and where I want to be or crave to be is too big or too different from my current reality. I remember at the Vipassana course, the meditation involved focusing on sensations in the body. The idea was to be equanimous and just accept whatever sensations appeared without judging. It was such a hard thing to do. It was interesting to observe though — even the slightest itch could be made so much worse when I focused on it and had the mindset of craving for it to go. However, the experience was completely different, when I just observed. The itch soon disappeared and I started to feel new more pleasant sensation instead.

    • Matt

      Hi Clare,

      I am currently practicing vipassana (for around three years now) and am interested in the wim hof method.

      Would you recommend practicing this alongside vipassana or to do it as a standalone practice?

      Out of interest, which method have you settled on?

      • Clare

        Hi Matt,
        Thanks for your comment. I’d love to hear how your vipassana practice is going after three years. After the 10 day course, I practised for a further few weeks and then went back to the Wim Hof Method. In a nutshell I practise the following as a daily practice:
        1. movement work – for me this is yoga with some of the Wim hof physical exercises thrown in. I’m a big believer in moving the body before sitting still in meditation. However, theoretically, you could choose any movement here that suits you.
        2. Breathing exercises – I currently practise the Wim Hof power breathing.
        3. Meditation – I keep this really simple. I focus on the space between my eyes. Once a week, however, I’ll practise a guided yoga nidra
        4. Cold therapy – this is part of the wim hof method. I don’t stay in the cold for very long, but I sometimes finish my morning shower with cold water. I can’t say the cold therapy is part of my everyday routine though.

        As for mixing meditation practices, people have mixed opinions. When I’m trying something new, however, I’ll often stop the other meditations that I’m doing in order to give the new technique my full attention. I can then gauge afterwards whether it was for me or not.

        From what I’ve learnt, read, experienced…there really is no right or superior way when it comes to meditation and it’s up to each individual to work out what intuitively feels best.

      • Anthony

        Sam, there are a lot of gurus in India teaching ‘vipassana’. These are old students that did not go onto to be AT or changed the teaching to suit them. Be mindful…, Vipassana as taught by S N Goenka in the tradition of Sayagyi u Ba Khin is the original teachings. Much Metta

        • The Trust

          Thanks for your comments Anthony

    • John Smith

      Vipassana is the classical theraveda buddhist meditation technique. And it is very useful for us in daily life. Nowadays people live a busy life. They have no time for themself because they always think about the past or are worried about the future. But doing this meditation we can improve our life.
      Lama Surya Das says that meditation reduces your stress, anxiety, anger and worries. It reduces your negative thoughts and gives us positive energy. I think everyone should do this kind of meditation.

      • Clare

        hi john, thanks for sharing your thoughts. i certainly got a lot out of vipassana and know lots of other people have as well. however, with this in mind, it might be quite an intense practice for some people and only those who are mentally stable should attend the 10 day retreat.

    • lisa

      Thanks for sharing nice information. I love to read this post.

      • Kalkaji

        I also love meditation. Want to open my third eye but in the absence of Guru, I am not getting success. I do meditation two time – in the early morning and in the night.

        • Clare Hudson

          Hi kalkaji, that’s great you love meditation, perhaps you could attend a local class to get more guidance. if you’re interested in the ajna chakra there’s also a really great book by Nityabhodananda Rishi called Ajna Chakra. I hope this helps a bit.

    • Anthony

      Your assertion that Buddhist and Vipassana are one/or associated is totally incorrect. “I recently spent 10 Days in a silent Buddhist Vipasssana meditation retreat in Hereford”. The only connection is Buddha who was not a Buddhist or even practiced or taught Buddhism. His followers have not been called Buddhists anywhere (in whole tipitika) . For those who gained benefit by walking on the path shown by him, these six words were used: dhammim, dhammiko, dhammattho, dhammacarim, dhammavihari, dhammanusari. After sitting the10-Day Course this would have been made very clear to you. Be Happy!

      • Clare Hudson

        tHANK YOU FOR YOUR INSIGHT aNTHONY. The fact that vipassana and Buddhist teachings are not associated is something I wasn’t aware of. I found the practice beautiful but know very little about the histories and routes of buddhism and how a lot of these meditative practices might connect or not.

    • Gene

      Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I am
      waiting for your further write ups thanks once
      again.

    • Winnie

      Incredible points. Great arguments. Keep up the good effort.

    • Jacques

      It’s wonderful that you are getting thoughts from this article
      as well as from our discussion made at this time.

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